Sunday, May 1, 2016

Hearts Open Wide (the Team House)

In my office hangs three pictures of the Endurance, the ship that Ernest Shackleton sailed in his attempt to cross the Antarctic. I've read multiple accounts of his expedition, and his tale of leadership and heroism exemplifies what a band of brothers can accomplish.

So often in my life, I feel as if I am surrounded by insurmountable challenges. There are days when getting out of bed feels futile. 



 According to the lore that surrounds Shackleton, this was the advert that he placed for recruitment. I read it and I feel hopeful because it reminds me that hazardous journeys are those which yield honor. Ultimately, I'd rather fail at something worthwhile than be successful at doing nothing.

Even so, I've come to realize that navigating uncertain waters is impossible alone. I thank God that He has surrounded me with men who can create reality from vision. 

The way my life works is that God compels me to do things before I posses the resources to make them happen. He requires me to be obedient and to trust that somehow He'll make it work along the way. If you know me, you've seen this happen.

This year I've known that two things need to happen, and I've committed to both: Journey Church needs an associate pastor that is Guatemalan and bilingual, and our family has agreed to host 10 college students at once this summer as we direct Emmaus (10 students, 5 weeks, 4 countries).

The problem with these two goals is that the church lacks the funding to pay an associate, and I do not have space to house my family of 5 and 10 college students. But... it is the calling I hear from God, and so we commit to doing both.

My favorite word is "convergence," because this is how God works in our life. In a single conversation with the director of Catalyst Resources International, it became clear that God had already provided the solution. I felt like Joshua when he commanded the people to "SHOUT" because God had already delivered them the city.

When our hands are empty, they are ready to receive what God is able to give. When our hearts are wide open, they are ready to be filled with the blessings that fulfill the purpose of God. Of course, these things happen on His time-table.

Otto Lopez has been a volunteer at Journey since the very first Sunday we met on the campus of the Christian Academy. My family was there, wondering if anyone would actually show up, when Otto walked in, said he found us on social media, and would like to help. He helped us set up chairs that day, and he has been at my side ever since.

Otto has helped coordinate our translation team, our media team, participated in small groups, and coached me how to relate to the Guatemalan culture as we have built a church that is both interesting and welcoming. Recently Otto began a seminary degree at SETECA in Antigua. He is studying to be a pastor.

Meanwhile, CRI continues to expand and demand has risen for teams from the US to have a place to stay with us. CRI also has been using Otto for translation and support. 

To my shock, I watched God's plan unfold as CRI proposed that: Journey Church hire Otto as our Pastor of Next Steps, that Otto also take on projects with CRI for pay, and that a new design concept be used to construct a small team house on our property that could be used for Emmaus.

Otto would move into the house and manage it. There was even funding already available. 

The new design could be an answer for families in the villages that own property that will not suit a traditional style home due to unstable terrain or slope. Using an elevated design that is frequently seen in US coastal construction, concrete pillars would be poured to support a raised floor. From that foundation, building techniques perfected by CRI in the villages would be used to build a two bedroom house, complete with a full kitchen, bath, and common area. 

The design would be further enhanced by adding sheetrock, an improved roof and ceiling, electricity, and WiFi.

Otto and I working together at a CRI sponsored event
 this past spring, "Q Commons."
We agreed on a design found on the internet, and broke ground within a week. Otto now is our Pastor of Next Steps and he is living inside of our house while the crew builds his new team house. 

We have gone from broke, under-resourced, and short on space... to a fully staffed church, and a managed property. What seemed impossible to me, was possible with God. 

Rebar enforced and concert filled posts to level the floor.

Local constructed concrete and rebar lock system for a block floor.

Material used for the skeleton of the floor.

Blocks in place, nearly ready for concrete pour.

All concrete is mixed by hand: 60 wheelbarrows of sand, 45 of rock, 30 bags of cement.

One-third of the materials ready for shovel mix.

Ramp ready for wheelbarrow pours

Concrete poured and kept wet for a two-day slow dry.

View from the back corner, possible future tool shed underneath.
The frame begins this week after the guys have had a very much needed long-weekend off. I am blown away by their exhaustive and self-sacrificing gift of energy and sweat. I am thankful for CRI that provides material and pays their wages, extending the reach of our mission to their families. They have all become now... our family.

My heart is overwhelmed and I am humbled... my only part in this story... is just a willingness to say, "Yes" to the quiet prompting of the Holy Spirit, and to have the faith to hold out an empty hand, and see His faithfulness to supply the perfect solutions, with our hearts wide open.

So, whatever challenges you are facing right now, I wish you endurance like Shackleton, the imagination of God who turns impossible to possible, and hope in God so that your labors and painful days build towards a meaningful future.

1 Timothy 4:10
That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.

Luke 18:27
Jesus replied, "What is impossible with man is possible with God."

To learn more about Ernest Shackleton & the Endurance

For information about EMMAUS, Catalyst Resources International, & the Shepherd family

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